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Carnival of the Animals Activity

Carnival of the Animals


Carnival of the Animals is a short 14-movement suite by French composer Camille Saint-Saens. It was composed in 1886 and, when it was written, audiences would have found it to be pretty funny- it is full of musical jokes that listeners would have instantly recognized. Each movement is about a character, mostly different animals.

This piece is an excellent jumping-off point for imagination-based interaction. You can hear the different animals so clearly in each movement.


  • Listen to all, or some, of the movements and have your child(ren) act out the animal that the movement is about.
  • Having them move slowly like a giant tortoise, stomp around like a big elephant, or flutter like flocks of birds.
  • Depending on the age of the children, you can dig deeper and ask them about the qualities of the music that made it sound like that animal. Does “The Swan” sound light or heavy? What instruments sounded like the lion “roaring” in “The Royal March of the Lion?” If you were to write a movement about butterflies, for example, how would you make the music sound – fast or slow? Heavy or Light? Simple or complicated?

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